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Veterans Day: Events, speeches, and a new memorial unveiling

Nov 11, 2021, 11:51 AM | Updated: 12:44 pm
utah veterans day service war memorial wall...
A new memorial in West Valley City honors all Utah veterans who gave their lives in service of their country, including World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam, and more. Photo: Nick Wyatt, KSL NewsRadio

WEST VALLEY CITY – A new $1 million Utah Veterans Memorial was unveiled in West Valley City on Thursday, November 11th.

America’s service members of the past and present are being celebrated on Veterans Day across the country.

Some of the ways vets are being honored in Utah include free gifts at local businesses and organizations, events with speakers, activities, concerts, and continued work to improve circumstances for veterans in the U.S.

West Valley City, though, has had a special plan to honor Veterans for quite some time.

New Utah Veterans Memorial opens in West Valley

Invite to Utah veterans Memorial unveiling in West Valley City Photo: West Valley City Director of Communications

On Thursday at 9 a.m., Mayor Ron Bigelow and West Valley City unveiled a project that has been years in the making, reported West Valley’s Director of Communications, Sam Johnson. 

A press release laid out the programming for the unveiling. West Valley City expected a highly attended event with veterans, residents, business, and community leaders in the crowd. Local and city government leaders also attended, including Rep. Chris Stewart of Utah’s 2nd Congressional District, and Rep. Burgess Owens of Utah’s 4th congressional District.

The memorial, constructed in 3 months, spans 3 acres and includes a 14,100 square feet plaza. It features Utah elements and symbols.

The memorial is composed of Utah-sourced material, including quartzite sandstone from Browns Canyon Quarry. At the center of the memorial, sandstone monoliths form into the shape of Utah with cutouts for the Great Salt and Utah lakes and carvings for the slot canyon and its runoff. 29 benches at the site represent each of the 29 counties in Utah. 

As a sustainable element, through collaboration with Granger-Hunter Improvement District, all rainwater will be collected and redistributed to water the surrounding landscape of Utah native plants. 

To honor veterans

This memorial, reportedly the first of this kind in the state, features the names of 2,894 veterans with Utah ties who gave their lives in service. 

An idea when he was first elected in 2013, the memorial was the brainchild of West Valley City Mayor Ron Bigelow. 

He explained how he noticed there was no tribute to the Utah veterans of World War II in his research of memorials across the state. So, he started doing research of his own on how to best represent these fallen heroes. With the help of leaders of the city, the state, neighboring states, and Friends of the National WWII Memorial in Washington D.C., the plan took shape. 

“From that grew an idea of how we could do it for Utah, for the whole state of Utah,” said the mayor. 

The memorial wall itself, which features each of the 2,394 names, is 75 feet wide, 8 feet high and over a foot thick.  

American flags meet visitors at the memorial’s entrance and line the path to the wall. Five flags at the entryway initially flew over the U.S. Capitol.

As impressive as the display is, Bigelow says there is more to come. 

“What you see here is the first phase. This is to honor those who gave their lives. We will add other features here: a place for them to congregate, a building, more gardens, to make this a spot where everyone can come and remember the sacrifices they made,” he said. 

Mayor Bigelow said a whole army of organizations helped make the memorial wall possible in such a short timeframe, including Okland Construction and EDA Architects. The project broke ground on Memorial Day and they were able to open by Veteran’s Day. 

“We appreciate their efforts and they went the extra mile. They contributed. They were here working weekends. They were doing everything they could to do the job, and do it right, to get it done for today,” the mayor said. 

30 minutes away from the unveiling of the monument, North Layton Junior High School hosted its own celebration. 

Celebration of vets in Layton

North Layton Junior High School hosted a Veterans Day celebration especially in honor of students who live on Hill Air Force Base and who attend that junior high, as well as for the students who have family members in the military. Students with family members in the military who could do so brought them to school for breakfast. 

Breakfast with family members at North Layton Junior High, Veterans day 2021 Photo: Davis School District

Afterward, the students and veterans heard a performance from a choir and a speech from retired Army Colonel Gary R. Stephens. 

As the veterans and military service members left, the school reported that students lined the halls to offer their cheers of support.

Students at North Layton Junior High cheer for Veterans Photo: Davis School District

 

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Veterans Day: Events, speeches, and a new memorial unveiling